It seems to happen at least once a week. A dog saves the life of a baby, or an entire family, by selflessly putting itself between danger and a human. Dog Saves Infant From Fire, Dog Saves Family From Fire, Dog Rescues Toddler. Dogs are, from all appearances, better people than most people. Which explains why dogs are so popular as pets.
Cats, on the other hand, will most likely not risk their lives to save a person. Oh, there are some stories about a cat protecting a child, or Meatball, the French cat who saved eleven people in a fire. For the most part, though, cats are jerks.
We have a cat. Her name is Princess, and she has appropriated all the furniture in our living room. Princess is almost eighteen years old. She is a rescue kitty, fat and happy, shedding all over the damn place, chewing on carpet, puking on carpet, floors, and yes, her furniture, and I love her desperately. I do not, however, think Princess would save my life during a fire.
I would save hers, no question. If we had a fire in our townhouse, I would grab her first. Then maybe a scrapbook, my wallet, my phone, and some underwear. Odds are, I would probably try to get some of my mother's art out of the house before my husband dragged me onto the lawn. But I would get the cat first.
And I guarantee that while I was grabbing Princess, she would yell at me, struggle, maybe try to bite or scratch me, because she hates to be held. So as I was saving her life, she would be pissed. Cats are jerks.
When Princess goes to the rainbow bridge, it will break my heart. Despite her quirks, and the cat hair all over the place, and all the times we have stepped in warm, squishy cat vomit, and the fringe missing from a Persian rug I inherited from my mother because Princess ate it, and the cat food she sprays under the dining room table, and how she shoots litter five feet onto the floor, I really love her. I will mourn, I will cry, I will miss her terribly, and then I will get a dog.
A small dog, but not one of those dogs you see being walked from a distance, and think to yourself "Why is that person walking a rat?" Our association has a weight limit on pets, which, sadly, means I cannot have a Newfoundland. Or a pony, but that's a different issue altogether. What I really want is a pug. I love the snarfling noise they make when they're happy, and how their whole butt wags.
Having a dog comes with one major drawback: walks. When it's pouring rain, or twelve below, or snowing so hard you can't see across the parking lot, the dog needs to be walked. When it's ninety degrees, with eighty percent humidity, the dog needs to be walked. If you have the flu, or a migraine, the dog needs to be walked. And it has been made very clear to me that if "we" get a dog, "I" will be responsible for the majority of the dog's care, because my husband doesn't really want a dog.
My husband had a black Lab named Joey many years ago. Joey was a great dog, according to my husband. Joey loved my husband so much, he once brought half a deer carcass home as a present. That image-an adorable black Lab, dragging half a deer carcass across the road, tail wagging as he anticipated how happy my husband would be to receive this wondrous gift. Shockingly, my husband was not as pleased as Joey hoped to have half a rotting corpse deposited in front of his house. But he still remembers Joey with love.
I've never had a dog; we've always been cat people. And maybe, someday, when the opportunity presents itself, I'll get another cat. I just really want a dog. I will run across the street, or walk half a block out my way, to pet and chat with a dog. Dogs like me, because I have a special "talking to animals" voice. It's soft, and low, and gentle. It probably wouldn't work on a wildebeest, or a tiger, or a venomous snake ("Hi! Oh, who's a pretty snake? Now, let's not do that, sweetie, no, we don't have to HOLY SHIT YOU LITTLE BASTARD I NEED TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL OH JUST FUCK YOU SNAKE!").
We will have to wait and see if a dog becomes part of our family at some point. Until then, I will care for Princess, and adore her, all the while knowing that she would never, ever save me from a fire. It is more likely that she will, one day, be successful in tripping me as I walk next to her, I will fall and die from a head injury, and she will snack on my corpse.
And then she'll puke on the rug.